Category Archives: Newsletter

Any post that is intended to edn up in the bi-monthly news letter

Clinton Address to NEA 2016 RA

Clinton at NEA RA

by Maury Koffman, APA President

On July 5, 2016, the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, delivered a rousing address to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly. She began her comments by explaining her vision to strengthen public education, K-12 and colleges and universities. Clinton made it clear that any national campaign to create great schools for every student will only succeed with the strong voices of those educators who serve students everyday.

“I’m with you,” the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee declared to enthusiastic applause. “I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”

Lifting up educators will be central to Clinton’s plans for public education if elected in November. In her RA speech, she announced plans to launch a national campaign to elevate our professions that will spotlight the importance of career-long professional development, higher salaries for teachers and support staff professionals, and relief for crippling student debt.

“Unions helped create the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You’re not just fighting for your members. You’re fighting for your students, and families across the country.”

In her speech, Clinton proudly contrasted her vision for public education with that of her opponent in November, Donald Trump. She derided the GOP nominee’s plan to eliminate the Department of Education and slash funding for critical programs – from pre-k to Pell Grants – that serve low-income students. “[Trump] has said that America spends too much on education. He would leave our most vulnerable students to fend for themselves. He shouldn’t have anything to do with our children’s education.”

“I’m asking you – and all educators across the country – to work with me. Advise me, hold me accountable. And keep advocating for your students and your professions.”


NEA Representative Assembly Recap

by Maury Koffman, APA President

The 95th  NEA Representative Assembly (RA) kicked off on the morning of July 4 with the typical energetic celebration among the 7,000 delegates in attendance.

As the top decision-making body for the 3 million-member NEA, the RA debated 125 new business items that are intended to help direct the efforts of our national union in the coming year. Some key new business items called on the Association to join a national effort to prevent acts of violence targeted at LGBTQ individuals and to protect their civil rights. Others addressed funding and debt free programs for colleges and universities.

“We are making a long-term investment. An investment that will command persistence and struggle and commitment and a whole lot of work from every single one of us,” said NEA Vice President Becky Pringle.

On July 5, delegates were visited by the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

On July 6, NEA’s Executive Director John Stocks addressed the RA and warned the delegates that the new generation of educators may not necessarily understand how vital our union can and will be to them and their students.

“We must become relevant to them, to help them meet the changing needs of their students…to help them be successful educators” Stocks said. “And we must act with urgency.”

The RA is the top decision-making body for NEA and, after days of debate, concluded at 9:31pm on Thursday, July 7.

APA Board member Deb Porter shares her perspective on the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly:

Once a year our national affiliate, the National Education Association, holds a convention requesting delegates from every state attend to develop and do the business of the organization. These are the folks that represent over 3 million public education employees, from pre-school thru higher education and are there to represent you. This year there were approximately 7,000 delegates in attendance.

The assembly itself is just a few days, however there are numerous meetings and committees in the days prior to the assembly. I had the honor and privilege to be your representative at the National Council for Higher Education and the National Council for Education Support Professionals prior to the 2016 National Education Association Representative Assembly (RA). In addition, I also attended the RA as a state delegate for the Michigan Education Association.

Every day we started about 6-6:30 AM and went to 7, 8 or 9 PM. We worked on amendments to the constitution, bylaws and standing rules. We worked on resolutions and policy statements as well as business items as well as passing the budget. We listened to speakers such as Jahana Hayes, Teacher of the Year; Doreen McGuire-Grigg’s, ESP of the Year; John Stocks, NEA Executive Director; friends of education Senator Patty Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander; Lily Eskelsen Garcia and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.

My take away from the time spent at the assembly is this. We are very lucky to be associated with an organization that cares and works hard for our children, families, communities and all educational professionals at every level. They are passionate about what they do, knowing they may not always agree, however they are willing to listen, engage and advocate for education. I am proud to be a member of the NEA!

Your Fellow APs

Interview by Laura Wise, APA Executive Board

Our APA Member Spotlight this month is highlighting Todd Wilson at Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

What is your job title?
Project Representative

How long have you been at MSU?
22 years

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?
No, I was originally hired into a position that was represented by CTU, and transferred to an APA position in 1999

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
I manage Capital Construction projects in the Planning, Design and Construction office, in Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

What brought you to your job at MSU?
I was employed as a Student Aide at (then) Physical Plant while I was working on my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. My background is mechanical, and I really enjoyed the place and the people I worked with. When an opportunity came to work here full time, I applied for a position as a Programmer in the Energy Management office at IPF and was hired.

What do you love about working at MSU?
The diversity. There are so many great things happening here, and such a broad array of experiences to be gained… Great people… beautiful campus… I’m proud to be at MSU

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I coach robotics in Haslett with kids aged 9-14, and have coached competitive baseball (ages 8-14) for 8 years. Also, myself and two friends brew beer, and are in the process of trying to open a commercial brewery here in Lansing… Gearhead Brewing Company.

6th Annual APA Picnic

APA Member PicnicMore than 300 people attended the 6th Annual APA picnic at Patriarche Park in East Lansing on Tuesday, May 17th. APA President Maury Koffman and many APA executive board members were on hand to speak with members.

Many families were in attendance on a beautiful sunny day, enjoying dinner, children playing at the park and conversation with other APA members.

Board member Carol Greysmith commented “It was great fun to see a lot of the same people from year to year.” Incoming APA Vice-President Dennis Seybert enjoyed answering many questions from our members. We hope to see you all again next year!

Carol Greysmith and Dennis Seybert
Carol Greysmith and Dennis Seybert

Please Welcome Melanie Waltz – New APA UniServ Director!

We would like to welcome Melanie Waltz as the new UniServ Director for the Administrative Professional Association. Melanie has been working for the Michigan Education Association (MEA) since 2007 and in that time has worked both in the field and at MEA Headquarters. In her tenure with MEA, Melanie has represented K-12 teachers, educational support professionals and the city library staff. In addition to bargaining contracts and advocacy work in the field, Melanie has also worked for three years at MEA Headquarters in East Lansing in the Professional Development and Human Rights Department.

While at MEA HQ, she focused on training, member engagement and organizing around professional issues – including certification, evaluation, professional development and teacher leadership.

Melanie and her husband, Patrick, love to spend time with friends, family and their dog, Sadie. They are also embarking on a new adventure this summer – learning Spanish and building a small “Casita” in Nicaragua where they love to vacation.


Melissa Sortman and Melanie Waltz
Melissa Sortman and Melanie Waltz

APA Withdraws From the Coalition of Labor at MSU

by Maury Koffman, APA President

Today, the APA is proud to be the largest union on campus and been one of the founding members of the Coalition of Labor Organizations (CLO) at Michigan State University. Over the past decade we have accomplished a great deal through openly sharing information between campus unions.

Yet, as time has passed and leadership transitioned within local campus unions, it seems the dynamics changed and the commitment to the founding principles of the CLO faded. With growing frustrations among many CLO members and concerns about political posturing by some CLO leaders with the University administration, the APA Executive Board engaged for months of deliberation whether our participation in the CLO was helpful or harmful to the APA membership.

In the recent months, following the unexpected passing of Charlie Heckman who served as the President of AFSCME Local 999 and also as the chair of the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) on campus, there was an increased unwillingness of CLO unions to openly share information unless demanded.

Elevating the APA’s concerns was the decision of the CLO to move forward with the appointment of a new JHCC Chair at a meeting where the APA and other campus union leaders were unable to attend. Exacerbating the APA concern is that a final vote count was requested by the APA and was denied by those who purportedly participated in the vote. The detailed election results have still not been released.

In considering multiple factors and recognizing that a subset of the CLO intentionally excluded the APA in the deliberations regarding the next JHCC Chair, on April 12, 2016, the APA Executive Board proposed and unanimously adopted a motion to withdraw from the Coalition of Labor Organizations at MSU.

This action of the APA Executive Board will have no direct impact on individual members of the APA and the APA will continue to be actively engaged at JHCC.  The function of the unanimous decision of the APA Executive Board to withdraw from the CLO was to affirm that only the APA speaks on behalf of it’s members regarding the APA’s and MSU’s mutually ratified wage and health care agreement.

Both the APA and MSU recognize we have a mutually ratified agreement through December 31, 2017 and have reaffirmed our desire and intent to continue working through the JHCC in a consistent, collaborative manner just as we have in the past.

Finally, how we bargain our wage and health care agreement is a decision that must be made every four years.  Withdrawal from the CLO does not prevent the APA from bargaining jointly with other unions should that be the mutual desire when we approach wage and health care negotiations in late 2017.

To put it another way, it is JHCC that addresses the ratified wage and health care agreement. Since nothing has changed between MSU and the APA regarding the wage and health care agreement, and noting the affirmation by both MSU and the APA to continue working in JHCC, we will continue to meet just as we have in the past.

While the APA is disappointed that the actions of a few CLO leaders compelled this result, the APA Executive Board recognized we could not sit silently on the sidelines while decisions were made that adversely impacted the entire APA membership.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the APA office at 517.999.4004 or email us at

Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to answer a potpourri of questions that members have brought to attention recently.


If I leave MSU employment prior to 25 years of service, do I retain the total balance of my 403(b) retirement account including the MSU contribution?

Yes. The APA is proud to have negotiated a vibrant retirement plan. Employee contributions are 5% and University contributions are 10% of the employee’s base annual salary. The money contributed to your 403(b) plan – employee and employer amounts – vests immediately and goes with you at any time you conclude your employment relationship with MSU.

I have questions about our APA bargained retirement plan administered through MSU. Who can I contact for more information?

There is an FAQ on the MSU HR website at that provides more information around our retirement plan. Additionally, you can contact the retirement office via phone at 517.353.4434 or via email at


How much is the negotiated APA annual wage increase this year for 2016?

The APA negotiated annual wage increase is applied every year in October. For the 2016 year, the APA annual base wage increase is 1%. This amount will be applied across the board meaning each and every member of the APA will be provided the full 1% base wage increase in October 2016.


When wage increases are greater than 1% in a given year, the APA contract provides that 40% of the wage increase is automatic – across the board – and 60% applies the merit pay guidelines that require objective and consistent application. Your immediate supervisor should also provide advance notice of you annual wage increase amount before it is realized on your October 2016 paycheck.


Does the APA contract define a minimum and maximum annual salary for all members of the bargaining unit?

Yes and no. The APA contract outlines minimum salary requirements for all grade levels within the bargaining unit. However, the APA contract serves as a floor and individual bargaining unit salaries may rise above the APA minimums and progression levels.


How long do I have to maintain one APA position before applying for other positions on campus?

Per the APA contract, individuals can apply for other APA and campus positions at any time. There is no period of time a bargaining unit member must wait before seeking alternative positions.

I have been offered another job on campus. How much notice must I give before resigning my current position?

There is no length of notice requirement to resign from your current position. However, when moving to another position within MSU, departments may facilitate up to a 30-day window for the transition. The APA encourages providing as much notice as possible with the standard minimum of two weeks notice if your calendar for transition allows.



Your Fellow APs

Interview by Laura Wise, APA Executive Board

Our APA Member Spotlight this month is highlighting Tom Cummins at MSU Extension.


What is your job title?

Communications Coordinator, MSU Extension Communications

How long have you been at MSU?

Just over six months.

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?


Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

I work with the MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institutes. My role involves development of communications and marketing materials and related planning, editing and posting articles written by health and nutrition extension educators and general management of website content related to the health and nutrition institute’s five work teams.

What brought you to your job at MSU?

Following a positive study abroad experience at MSU I immigrated to Michigan from Australia in 2015 to get married and carve out a small piece of the Mitten State to call home.

What do you love about working at MSU?

I love the campus itself, the greenways and buildings. It is also great to be a part of an educational environment with a strong focus on building healthier communities.

What do you like to do when you are not at work?

I really enjoying trying out new restaurants, revisiting favorite restaurants, drinking great coffee, cooking, reading and exercising.